erik lundegaard

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Monday March 28, 2016

Why 'Batman v Superman''s $170 Million Open Isn't the Important Number

Batman v Superman box office

“It's your fault.” “No, it's your fault.” 

Despite often blistering reviews (including mine), “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” opened at $170 million domestic, $254 foreign, for a $424 worldwide opening, which is the fourth-best ever; but that was never really in doubt. It's a summer movie opening in March, and the first cinematic pairing of two of the world's most beloved superheroes. It's supposed to open big. 

You could argue, in fact, that it should've opened bigger. Domestically, sure, that $170 beats anything from the Dark Knight series (unadjusted), but it's still behind, among others, “Iron Man 3,” which opened at $174 million in 2013. 

Batman and Superman together can't beat Iron Man? In the comic book world, that shouldn't compute.

“Iron Man 3” was actually kind of lousy, but it opened well because it followed upon “The Avengers,” which was hugely successful both critically and commercially. Why didn't Batman/Superman open bigger? Three reasons, off the top of my head:

  1. It followed upon, “Man of Steel,” which wasn't particularly good. 
  2. The trailers looked lousy (no “We have a Hulk” moment) and word-of-mouth from critics and others confirmed it.
  3. The non-geek crowd is wearying of end-of-the-world superhero movies.

The truly important number isn't this weekend's gross but next weekend's drop. For these types of movies, a 50-60% drop is normal; anything more than 65 is problematic. Given “BVS”'s big open and general lousiness, I'm expecting 70%. I'm expecting Hulk 2003 numbers. 

Yeah, it's still going to make a mint. But I'm guessing “Batman v Superman” loses hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly as much as half a billion dollars, because it sucked. And that's on Zack Snyder. Specifically it's on the Warner Bros. people who gave him the job: who entrusted their most popular characters, their most prized intellectual property, to the man who made “300,”  “Watchmen” and “Sucker Punch.” 

UPDATE: The final domestic number was $166 million, which puts it behind the last “Harry Potter” film, too. 

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Posted at 07:06 AM on Mar 28, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday March 20, 2016

Box Office: Dystopian Times for Dystopian Movies?

The Divergent Series: Allegiant

Is it dystopian times for our teenaged dystopian movies? Meaning a utopia for critics?

“The Hunger Games” ended last fall with a whimper, grossing 68% of what the first one did, while “The Maze Runner” never really caught on ($80-$100 mil). As for “The Divergent Series”? It had hopes to be another “Hunger Games” but now it's cratering toward “Maze.”

This weekend, “Divergent: Allegiant” opened at $29 million, which is almost half of what the original opened to in 2014:

YEAR MOVIE US GROSS OPENING
2014 Divergent $150,947,895 $54,607,747
2015 The Divergent Series: Insurgent $130,179,072 $52,263,680
2016 The Divergent Series: Allegiant $29,050,000 $29,050,000

The original wound up grossing 2.75 x its opening, the sequel 2.5 times. If this one does that, that's only $72.5 million, or half of what the original grossed. If it does 3 x its opening, it'll still be around $87. And there's one more sequel to go. Jane, stop this crazy thing. 

“Divergent”'s loss is “Zootopia”'s gain. For the third weekend in a row, it took top prize, with $38 mil, bringing its total thus far to $201. Abroad, it's added another $389. 

In third place? One of those springtime (read: Easterish) Christian movies, “Miracles from Heaven,” starring a former star (Jennifer Garner). Trailer here. I hadn't heard of it until this week, but then I'm not in its demographic. Key words from the trailer: “faith” and “From the producers of 'Heaven Is For Real.'” On the one hand, it didn't open great: $15 mil. On the other hand, that's the 7th-best opening for quote-unquote “Christian” movies, meaning cultre-war Christian movies. And if you remove the big boys (“Passion” and the “Narnia” series), it's actually third, behind only “Son of God” ($25) and “Heaven Is For Real” ($22). 

What's dying on the vine? “10 Cloverfield Lane” (12.5/45), “London Has Fallen” (6.8/50), “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” (2.8/19), and “The Brothers Grimsby” (1.4/5.9) What's holding on? “Deadpool,” the year's biggest hit so far. In its sixth weekend it grossed another $8 mil for $341 domestic and $389 overseas.  

Anomaly of the weekend: “The Bronze,” opening in 1,167 theaters, had one of the worst per-theater-average openings ever: $361 per. To be precise, it's the seventh-worst ever for movies opening in more than 1,000 theaters.

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Posted at 06:10 PM on Mar 20, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday March 06, 2016

Box Office: 'Zootopia' Busts Loose; 'London' Falls

I saw “Olympus Has Fallen” three years ago and I still haven't washed the stink off. How awful that that's our wish-fulfillment fantasy: a terror attack on the White House. But of course, in the language of Hollywood, one man knows what to do. And for 90-120 minutes, in the dark, munching our popcorn and slurping our soda, we get to be that one man—stronger, braver, and more handsome than we really are. Well, stronger and braver. Gerard Butler's hardly Cary Grant. 

“Olympus” wound up grossing $98 mil domestically, $62 overseas, and it probably did well on VOD and DVD for those fans who can't bother to get up off the couch to see a man save the world; so that's why we're now stuck with the sequel, “London Has Fallen.”

The first one opened to $30 mil. How did the sequel do?

Per its title, it fell to $21. But that was good enough for second place. 

The weekend was won by Disney's “Zootopia,” which grossed $73 million at home and $158 million abroad. Domestically, that's the fourth-best opening ever for a March release, and the ninth-best opening ever for an animated movie. It's also, believe it or not, the best opening ever for a Disney animated movie. 

Meanwhile, the fourth weekend of “Deadpool” finished in third place with another $16 mil (it's up to $311/$362), while the opening of the new Tina Fey Afghan-war comedy, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” finished in fourth place with a disappointing $7.6 in 2300 theaters. 

Post-Oscars, “The Revenant” grossed another $3 mil for a $175 total, while “Spotlight” picked up another $1.8 for a $41 total.

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Posted at 04:25 PM on Mar 06, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Wednesday March 02, 2016

That Ballooning Chinese Box Office

Chinese box office hits

No. 1 in 2008, 2012 and this year. With bullets.

Via Box Office Mojo, here's a list of the biggest box-office hits in China since 2007, with numbers in $US:

YEAR MOVIE CHINESE B.O.
2007 Transformers $37.21
2008 Red Cliff: Part I $46.69
2009 2012 $68.67
2010 Avatar $204.12
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon $165.10
2012 Lost in Thailand $197.41
2013 Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons $196.74
2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction $320.00
2015 Furious 7 $390.91
2016 The Mermaid * $481.91 *

*Still in release

See that last number? “The Mermaid” was only released in February and yet, transposed to the U.S. market, it would already be the seventh-highest-grossing film of all time. And it'll go higher. How high? Not sure. $600 mil, most likely. Maybe higher. So in 10 years, as measured by its top box-office hit, the Chinese box office has ballooned by more than 16 times

Here's a quick, related story. I was living in Taiwan in 1990 when “Total Recall,” with Arnold Schwarzenegger, was released, and some friends and I went to see it in Taipei's movie district. We went to, I believe, the 2 a.m. show on a Friday night, and the place was packed. Sold out. And when we were leaving? Outside the theater? We saw this long line of people waiting to get into the 4 a.m. show. 

Overall, China's box office was about half the U.S.'s in 2014 (10.4 billion vs. 4.8 billion) but I wouldn't be surprised to see China eclipse the U.S. here someday. And maybe sooner than we thought.

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Posted at 07:34 AM on Mar 02, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday February 21, 2016

Box Office: 'Deadpool' Keeps Grossing, 'Risen' Barely Rises, 'Witch' Scares Up Little, 'Race' Falls Behind

Once again, “Deadpool” took our milk money, falling off only 58.5% and grossing another $55 mil for a 10-day total of $235. That's the 16th-best 10-day total ever (unadjusted), and indicates where our mouthy manchild might wind up. “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” is one above it, in 15th place, and it grossed $380; one below, “Twilight: New Moon” conked out at $296. So probably between those, and probably closer to the former. He's your only superhero, after all, until the end of March. 

This weekend, three new movies opened, two of which I've anticpated, so of course it's the third one, with the lowest RT rating, “Risen” (Jesus, nonbeliever, resurrection), that rises above the others. But none of them have anything to brag about:

Rnk Movie Wknd Gross Thtrs Avg
3 Risen $11,800,000 2,915 $4,048
4 The Witch $8,685,270 2,046 $4,245
6 Race $7,275,000 2,369 $3,071

I'm surprised by the shrug elicited for both “The Witch,” which looks truly terrifying, and “Race,” which looks typical of an early season biopic but is still the first feature film to focus on Jesse Owens. Ever.

Definitely no love for “Zoolander 2,” which opened abysmally and still fell off by 60%, for $5.5 mil and 7th place. It's now at $23.7. To be fair, the original hardly killed, grossing $45 in 2000. I guess people thought it picked up a following on cable. Or something. 

In eighth place? The 10th weekend of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which is now at $921 million domestic and $2.039 billion worldwide. But it's crawling now rather than zipping at lightspeed. 

The best per-theater average? “The Mermaid” or “Mei ren yu,” the latest from Stephen Chow, which is setting records in China. It played in only 35 theaters in the U.S. but grossed $29K per. 

Movies I want to see? In order:

  1. The Witch
  2. Hail, Caesar! (I know; busy)
  3. Mei ren yu
  4. Race
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Posted at 02:43 PM on Feb 21, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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